I often like to say that I’m “relentlessly pattern-driven,” and it’s true — I am. While it may sometimes border on the pathological for me (hey, I admit it!), the human brain in general is a pattern and prediction machine. Your brain takes small pieces of information and maps it out to the larger picture of what it already knows. And if it doesn’t know? It guesses.
Check this out:
For emaxlpe, it deson’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod aepapr, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer are in the rghit pcale. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit pobelrm.
S1M1L4RLY, Y0UR M1ND 15 R34D1NG 7H15 4U70M471C4LLY W17H0U7 3V3N 7H1NK1NG 4B0U7 17.
(Both of the above examples are from this article that explains it a bit more.)
So, your brain is pattern-driven — and so is your audience’s. All of our brains use the context of what they already know to figure out what they don’t.
Here’s why that matters: if you’re trying to get a message across quickly and effectively, you want to work with all those brains’ predilection for patterns, not against them. The more your audience can associate your message with a pre-existing pattern, the better they’ll remember it. And like it.
The challenge, of course, is that you know A LOT about your message. Like, a lot, a lot. And when you’ve got people’s attention riding on that message (and thus maybe your business), it can be super tempting to give all that information to people all at once.
The other thing you’ve got going on with your message is that a lot of it is likely new to your audience. They haven’t seen or heard your message before.
If you combine lots of information with lots of new information, you may end up with a muddle, both in your message, and in your audience’s brain.
That’s where models come in. They turn the muddle of an idea, and how the pieces work, and make it make sense. I loooooove me a good model (or framework, or process, or method… you get the idea).
What I don’t love? Multiple models at once. But that’s because your brain doesn’t love them either, nor do your audience’s brains.
What happens is your pattern-driven brain sees one model and it starts looks for the pattern of that model in the rest of the message. (Remember the “known-new contract” I mentioned a few weeks back? The same thing is going on here.) If it finds the match, great — you’ve reinforced your message in your audience’s head.
But if their brains don’t see a model that matches? Or worse, one that competes? Well, then your audience starts feeling confused. You create a new and different kind of muddle. And audiences do not like that. We’d like to think that confusion leads to curiosity, but it doesn’t. Confusion more often leads to catastrophe, at least for your message. People give up and worse, blame you for their lack of understanding.
With me so far?
Muddles = bad.
Models = good.
Too many models = muddle = bad.
Models that match = magnify = very, very good.
So, how do you do that? Well, you can see some of my suggestions for muddled models in this episode of “What’s Missing From This Message?”:
- Pick one model and stick to it over the course of a message
- Define all the terms in your model to make sure your audience shares your understanding of what your model means
- If you need to present more than one model, make it clear how your models relate to each other (hint: this is where defining your terms can come in super handy!) — though it’s always better to add depth and detail to a single model than to switch to another one
The other thing you can do, by the way, is build on patterns people already know and recognize whether consciously or unconsciously. As I’ve talked about before, your brain automatically recognizes story structure in new information even if that information isn’t told as a “Once upon a time” story!
The very first step, of course, is making sure you know what your message actually is. That’s what the Red Thread® is all about, plus it has the bonus of building on that story structure pattern your audience’s brains know and love.
So how about your message? Is it a muddle of models? Just a muddle? Or a model of pattern-reinforcing perfection?The more your audience can associate your message with a pre-existing pattern, the better they'll remember it. Click To Tweet
Please note that many of the links are affiliate links, which means if you buy a thing I link to, I get a percentage of the cost, and then donate it to charity.
What’s missing from this message? Matching models.
What do I mean by that? Well, stay tuned for the next episode of What’s Missing from this Message? I’m Tamsen Webster of tamsenwebster.com
So Kevin Mackenzie was kind enough to respond to my offer on LinkedIn to send me his messaging in the form of a website. If you want to send your own message, you can do that at RedThreadMe@TamsenWebster.com, but Kevin works on strategy and particularly works with companies on helping them understand what their value is, where it comes from and all sorts of other things.
If you read deeper into his website, apparently defining value is a pretty sticky situation. And in fact, it has a whole bunch of different meanings for a whole bunch of different people and companies. And from all I can tell, Kevin wants to help companies fix that problem. Kevin also seems to have built a really interesting framework that he calls the BITS framework, subtitled the value interrogation framework. And so this website is something that helps him explain what that is.
So, let’s take a closer look, shall we? All right, when you first end up on his website, you see right at the top, nice and clean and clear, BITS, the value interrogation framework. And it has this question, does your business have a value challenge?
Now, I think he probably knows that a lot of people don’t necessarily know what he means by that. And so I really like what he’s done next and he gives four additional questions that can capture what I would usually call the audience goal question. That question that the audience is asking, that’s bringing them to your site in the first place.
So he goes on to put these four questions. How does your business create, capture and extract value? Why, where and how does it happen? Where in the create capture and extract path, are you struggling? How do you sustain value over long periods of time?
And then he follows up with, you can only solve for value if you can clearly describe it. Now, lots of like here, I particularly liked that last line that you can only solve for value if you can clearly describe it. If you happen to catch my, find the Red Thread video on how to describe or explain your idea in 30 seconds, this is a pretty good example of that.
All right. But let’s break down a little bit more what’s happening here. Now, the first question I really have for Kevin and for all of you to ask too, is, is there agreement on what a value challenge is?
Now, like I said, I really liked the fact that he gives us four additional questions to help us identify whether or not we have a value question, but I still think that it would help to know a little bit more about what Kevin means by value, because by establishing what he’s talking about with value, then he, and all the people who land on his page are sure that they’re talking about the same thing.
It’s like making sure that everybody has the same definition of, I don’t know, pants going into a conversation. You know, some people may be imagining one thing and other people may be an imagining another. When you’ve got a word like value, which again, later and deeper in his site, he explains that people don’t really know what that is. I think there would be a lot of value to him in defining right up front, what he means by value and then says, do you have a value challenge?
Or I would articulate this question in a way that is much more along the lines of what his audience is asking, but that’s me assuming that his audience doesn’t ask the question this way and they might, so let’s be fair to that.
Okay. So, I want to know more about what he means by value so I get a better understanding what he means by a value challenge. And the phrasing on value challenge feels a little unusual to me. It feels like language that Kevin uses, but may not necessarily be language that his audience uses.
So in an ongoing theme of this, What’s Missing from this Message? series, I really recommend that you work hard to make sure that you’re putting these kinds of questions in the language of your audience. That way they recognize that you are the right place for them.
Okay. These followup questions though, I think most of them are really good. How does your business create, capture and extract value? I think that feels like a good question for people to ask, but then what’s the challenge of that, right? So if you say what’s your challenge, that I want that question that comes after to articulate a specific challenge, is it that they don’t know how, so that’s a thought.
Why, where and how does it happen? Again, where’s the challenge in that? Where in the create, capture and extract path, are you struggling? Now, this is the one where if I had a beef with any of them, that would be this one. Mostly because I’m not quite sure if this create, capture and extract path is a well known model or framework that just because I’m not Kevin’s primary audience, I don’t recognize.
Or is it Kevin revealing one of his frameworks to the audience without them really understanding it. So when you’re talking about create, capture and extract path, that sounds like a model. Is it? If it is, probably a little too early in your messaging to be introducing it, because again, language of the audience.
Finally, how do you sustain value over long periods of time? Now that does sound like it has the heart of a challenge in it. I just want to hear a little bit more about specifically, what would my challenge as his potential client or customer actually be?
So anyway, I think, to sum up this top part, does your business have a value challenge? Really, I think the thing that’s going to help this be stronger is you’ve got a really great idea here, how do we put it in the audience language? And if we’re asking questions, are these the questions that the audience would ask?
He’s got a great call to action here with let’s talk. Yay, and then build your value map. Okay. So, if the last thing I read was, you can only solve for your value if you clearly describe it, then I want the next thing I read to be, this is how you describe it. Build your value map doesn’t quite have a tie there. So I want something that links those two. So either a piece of text or something that serves as a transition or tweak either the statement the, you can only solve for value if you can clearly describe it or change the ability to build your value map.
I would suspect he could do something super simple, like you can only solve for value if you can clearly describe it, that starts with building a value map. Boom, great. Scroll down. Here’s how you build your value map. Now you’ve got a sense of how does all this work together?
Now he talks about the BITS of framework, interrogates your best ideas and search a value maximization. That’s a lot of big words. So I get that BITS is the value interrogation framework and that’s part of Kevin’s branding for this, but interrogates is not a word that people use regularly.
It’s a super word, I love it. And yet in this context, I think it probably needs a little bit more context for people to understand, because if we’re talking about describing and then building a map, now you need to draw for me a connection to how interrogation, how asking questions is going to help me do that, right.
So, I just need a little bit more background on this and in search of value maximization. Well now it makes me wonder, is that the challenge that we’re looking for? Is this really about how can I maximize the value of my company or the value I can extract from my company? Again, if so, let’s make those messages a little more consistent so that people can follow the whole narrative arc.
Imagine value, create value, capture value, extract value, okay, that’s four things. And then I see five bubbles. And how does that talk and match to the create, capture and extract path? So this is really where I think that Kevin has such good information and what’s missing from this message is consistency of his models.
I think he’s thought a lot about this and I think he’s got some great, deep, interesting perspectives on it, but when someone’s first landing on their site, we need to start at the in expert/non-expert explanation of your idea. And so that probably means come up with which feature, whichever is your simplest model, and then make sure that all the messaging on that page matches that model.
We do that so that we don’t have what I like to call competing taxonomies, lots of big words too, but it means that you don’t have these models that don’t match and that mismatch won’t cause confusion.
So, we want to make sure that when you’re talking about processes or frameworks or pieces and parts that everything matches up because otherwise the audience is pretty sure that they missed something and people don’t like to feel like they missed something.
I mean, I don’t, do you? Didn’t think so. Okay. So we’ve got imagine value, create value, capture value, extract value, that’s four things. So is that the create, capture extract path again, but then it’s commercial beliefs, your best ideas, your value hypothesis, value theory, actionable strategy.
Those are also terms that I am not sure that everybody landing on this are going to understand, I like the
flow. I can follow the flow, knowing generally what he’s talking about, because I mean, I understand the meaning of the words. I don’t always understand what they’re talking about together. But I’m also curious, particularly in this run about what is value hypothesis and what’s a value theory?
So, if you’re going to introduce a model and you’re going to put words on it, and those words are ownable by you, then you really need to make sure that you are defining those words for people. So again, you don’t lose them because there’s absolute value in saying, “Hey, this person is super intelligent and super smart and they’ve really thought about this,” but you want to make sure that you are sharing that intelligence with your audience so that they understand, and they can track with you.
So good ideas here. And I’m really intrigued by all of this, but I am concerned that somebody who isn’t as interested in what the idea actually means, how long they would stick with this. And that would be, I think pretty tragic because it looks to me like Kevin’s got a really interesting way to help companies figure out this answer to this, I think, value maximization problem.
So next he goes to BITS, the value interrogation framework gives your team a process and tool set to conceptualize your value, describe your value, source new value, architect your value, give your strategy a target. One of these does not match the others because all of them have value except for the last one. So again, if I had a better understanding of what he means by value, then maybe that fifth one would fit a little bit better.
But again, without knowing that I kind of like, well, where did strategy target come in? So is it a value strategy? And consistent with what I’ve been saying before, how does this relate to the questions and the one big problem that Kevin solves?
So I have one other question, BITS, B-I-T-S seems clearly to be an acronym. What does it stand for? I don’t see that. So again, that’s one of those things that I want to understand a little bit more. He’s got these two calls to actions, our services find out more.
And if we keep going right at the end, we’ve got a little bit on Kevin himself. So Hey, Kevin, and this is one other opportunity just to make this a little bit stronger is to tie your tiny little biography that’s here, this little short bio here, even more into the messaging of the rest of the site so far.
So, if your business, and if this framework is all about solving value challenges for business, then bring that language, bring those ideas into the bio itself, so it all sits in.
All right, so let’s recap what was making this message strong and what was missing from it that will make it even stronger. So what’s here is clearly a lot of really good thinking about how businesses address certain questions around value and a process that helps them solve four of those questions.
So that’s very evident to me, as I look through this. What’s missing from this message is some consistency around a couple of things. One, that audience language, and making sure that his definition of value and what he means by these questions is consistent with what the audience means. And that’s really simple to fix just by giving us a few more definitions as either in copy or as design elements as he’s going through.
The second place and this is the place that I really want to focus for what would make this message even stronger is consistency of the models of the frameworks so that we don’t have one three-step model matched with a four-step acronyms that matched with a four-steps of value, which don’t match the acronym, which match up with a five-step product or five-step framework that we see.
So, help me understand as a reader, how those things expand so that they all fit together. And if they don’t, well then, that needs to be clear too. So when you’re thinking about, and looking at your message, really be thoughtful about what is the information that’s going to make my audience, not only understand, but agree and act on what I’m trying to do here. And that store, it’s oftentimes with what is the language that they’re trying to use?
What is the language that they use? If you want to introduce new language and new ways of thinking, make sure that you’re tying those new language and new ways of thinking, new frameworks to what the audience already knows or make sure that you’re defining those for them in a way that they can follow.
So thanks so much for Kevin McKenzie and his BITS framework for sending it here to me at What’s Missing from this Message? As I mentioned earlier, if you want me to take a look at your message, see what’s strong and what just may be missing from it, send it to me at RedThreadMe@TamsenWebster.com. Thanks so much for watching
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